The Bottom Line | Page 23

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Back to Betraying Children

When lightning strikes, typically the surface it strikes is the underdog. Well, the same is to be said when teacher unions’ strike. In Chicago, the teachers strike and the surface they hit are the children. Chicago has the third largest public school system in the United States and its teachers went on strike for salary increases (15 percent to be exact), enforceable caps on class sizes, and a written commitment for more nurses, social workers, and librarians. They also struck for more affordable housing, which is far outside the parameters of collective bargaining on a teacher’s contract. But hey, why limit yourself to educational issues? Even more of a head scratcher? The mayor, Lori Lightfoot, a progressive Democrat, had put Read More ›

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Warren’s Plan to Ban Effective Schools

Democrat presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, seeks to ruin education if elected president. In a recent announcement she pledges to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on traditional public schools while stripping any federal funding of new charter PUBLIC schools. This is coming from someone who has previously strongly supported public charter schools. Is it possible that she’s not aware that charter schools are, in-fact, public? Like other public schools, charter schools are open to all students, tuition free, publicly funded, staffed by certified teachers, and held accountable to state and national standards. The big difference between traditional public schools and charter public schools is that charter schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. This accountability is “traded” Read More ›

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Mandatory Busing Has Never Been Resolved

The customer of a school is the parent. Not the child. Nor a labor union. Nor the government. That’s the focus of David Armor’s CATO Institute policy analysis, “The Problems with Economic Integration and Controlled Choice.” Economic integration refers to a top down policy to equalize the proportion of low-income students in each school within a district. The idea of “controlled choice” is “a method of assigning students to schools by giving parents some degree of “choice” among the public schools in their district.” However, “choice” is a misnomer. The policy is more about control than choice. Armor states that the plans are “more like race-based mandatory busing.” Proponents of the economic integration models argue that there is evidence that Read More ›

Early Childhood Education
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The Best Case for Early Childhood Education

Children start to develop powerful cognitive capabilities, complex emotions, and essential social skills in the earliest years. Jack P. Shonkoff of the Harvard Chan School of Public Health writes, “[B]y 12 months of age, the human brain can differentiate all the sounds of the spoken language(s) to which it has been exposed.…Thus, learning at age 2 builds on what was mastered at age 1 and, in turn, lays the continuing foundation for what will be learned at age 3 and beyond.” As reported on EducationWeek by Sarah Sparks, “Studies find that even this early [6-12 months], infants who later have poor pre-literacy skills in kindergarten and poor reading skills in school can show less mature brain activity in these speech Read More ›

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The Myth of the Teacher Pay Gap

Teachers are not underpaid; they are underemployed. Almost everyone, including legislators, agree that teachers do not make enough money. But why are they not working as much as other occupations? Teacher compensation comes in two types: base compensation, which is the pay that all teachers receive, and incentive compensation, which results from additional training or on-the-job performance. In almost all states, teacher pay is driven by a salary schedule based on years of service and academic credits obtained. Nothing in the compensation system rewards teaching excellence. This type of structured compensation system was installed in the 1920s “to ensure equal treatment for all.” No other profession operates this way. The current teacher compensation system is broken and needs to be Read More ›

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Power Politics Trumps Children

Karl Zinsmeister, editor in chief of Philanthropy magazine, recently writes in the Wall Street Journal, “We are now in the midst of a counterrevolution against school reform.” This could not be more true. Both Republicans and Democrats have at times supported school reforms such as school choice, teacher accountability, and more rigorous testing. Now, as Chris Stewart, education expert at a Philanthropy Roundtable conference commented, “School reformers are getting punched in the face.” For example, in Texas, Houston’s Board of Education announced it will no longer allow Teach For America volunteers to serve in the district. And in California a panel appointed by the governor placed new constraints on educational choice, allowing local school-district officials the ability to veto public Read More ›

If at first you don't succeed
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Fix Graduation Requirements, Then Track Credentials

Graduation from high school is based on time. After 12-13 years of school, to receive a diploma a student needs to collect a certain number of credits (called Carnegie Units). A credit is generally based on having received a passing grade for one year of class time or 9,900 minutes of instruction (55 minutes x 180 days). What all of this says is that seat time, rather than real learning, is the primary measurement for meeting graduation requirements. As Don Nielsen expresses in another way, “in public education, measuring input is more important than measuring output.” The same can be seen in the industry-recognized credentials (non-degree or certifications) that students are earning. According to ExcelInEd, “nearly half of the 50 Read More ›

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Stuck in Time

The workforce is changing. But K12 schools are not keeping up with the times. As conveyed in EducationWeek, a recent study by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization based in Santa Monica, California, concludes that the workforce is transforming from technological changes, but K-12 schools are stuck in the mud. The article confirms what we have been asserting and is at the heart of our transformation efforts: “K-12 schools are preparing students for jobs using essentially the same set of strategies they’ve been relying on for decades.” Someone once said, “If Rip Van Winkle had gone to sleep January 1, 1900, and woke up on January 1, 2000, the only aspect of our society that would be familiar would Read More ›

What if question on napkin
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The Status Quo is Failing

“So why does a guy who seemingly did ok in the academic world think there should be more alternative routes through high school? That’s simple: to give a voice to the millions who in the rear view mirror were marginalized and to advocate for the millions ahead who will benefit by an opening of paths that hold academic integrity and which meet the realities of today.” – John M. McLaughlin in The Appeal of Alternative Education. In other words, education should provide a preparation for life for all children, not just those in the traditional public schools.  This is why we must transform our public education system. ACTE program chair, Don Nielsen, summarizes the broad objectives of education in his Read More ›

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Lucidity is Lacking

As reported on IdahoEdNews, the Bonneville School District pushed out an emergency levy worth $2 million. The issue with this emergency levy is that it does not require voter approval. The levy falls on the taxpayers’ property, and yet they have no say in the matter. Transparency is described as something that can be seen through. When it comes to transparency in government, we mean that citizens must be able to “see through” its mechanisms, to understand exactly what goes on when public officials manage public business. A government or government officials that are not transparent are more prone to corruption because there is no public oversight of their decisions. The spokeswoman of D93 Citizens, a group outspoken on this Read More ›